government


Today those of us who live in the United States celebrate our political freedom. It is ours simply because we are Americans. We don’t have to do anything to get it. Political freedom was obtained for us by individuals who paid very high prices to obtain it, such as:

Cost of the American Revolution:
• Total American military casualties were approximately 50,000 men.
• Of these 50,000, approximately 8000 died in battle; 17,000 died from disease.
• Of the 17,000 that died from disease 8-12 thousand of these contracted diseases while living in the deplorable conditions of rotting prison ships in NY harbor.
• Another 2500 Americans died while encamped at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-1778.

Cost of the Civil War:
• Casualties were approximately 750,000 soldier deaths.
• Of those 750,000 soldiers, 56,000 died in prisons.
• Another 60,000 men lost limbs.

Spiritual freedom is also available to those who want it. The price that was paid for spiritual freedom was also very high. It was bought and paid for by one man. Jesus Christ obtained spiritual freedom for us at Calvary. Spiritual freedom, however, is not automatic like political freedom. We have to do 3 things to obtain our spiritual freedom. Those 3 things are: 1. Accept Jesus’s work on the cross as a personal gift; 2. Give our lives to him to do with as he pleases; 3. Lay our hurts, habits & hang-ups at the foot of the cross & LEAVE THEM THERE!

Political freedom and spiritual freedom are very different and do not necessarily coexist. It is possible to be politically free and be in spiritual bondage. It is also possible to be spiritually free and be in political bondage. Political freedom is being released from the bonds of others. Spiritual freedom is being released from the bonds of self.

The Apostle Paul discusses spiritual freedom in his various letters. Paul’s calling, the assignment God gave him, was to travel throughout the known world preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ and planting churches. He would stay in a certain location for a period of time, plant a church and move on. He stayed connected to the churches he planted by writing letters to them.

Toward the end of his ministry Paul spent approximately 2 years in a Roman prison. While there, he wrote letters to the churches in Phillippi, in Colosse, and in Ephesus. Excerpts from these letters:
• “So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins” (Ephesians 1: 6-7).
• “So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2: 7).
• “… you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourself in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ” (Philippians 1:27).
• “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
• “I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church” (Colossians 1:24).

To me, there is no clearer example of spiritual freedom than the image of Paul sitting in a foul Roman prison chained to a Roman guard writing these words.

To summarize:
We obtained political freedom by winning.
We obtain spiritual freedom by surrendering.
When we are politically free we do what we want.
When we are spiritually free we do what God wants.

When we are obedient to God he rewards us by infusing us with an internal peace that the world cannot give and cannot understand. It surpasses human understanding because it can only come from God.

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Please listen to Michelle Obama’s speech in its entirety, regardless of what party you belong to and/or which candidate you support.

Hillary Clinton‘s live video.

IWillVote.com

As I stated in a recent post I’ve been re-reading Jim Wallis’s book God’s Politics. The following excerpt really resonates with me:

“There are now three major political options in our public life. The first political option in America today is conservative on everything… The second political option in contemporary America is liberal on everything… The third option in American politics is libertarian, meaning liberal on cultural/moral issues and conservative on fiscal/economic and foreign policy. I believe there is a fourth option… It is traditional or conservative on issues of family values, sexual integrity and personal responsibility, while being very progressive, populist, or even radical on issues like poverty and racial justice. It affirms good stewardship of the earth and its resources, supports gender equality, and is more internationally minded than nationalist–looking first to peacemaking and conflict resolution when it comes to foreign policy questions…They can be pro–life, pro–family, and pro–feminist, all at the same time.”

I believe I could fit into this fourth category.

I have been writing posts recently in which I ask the question “Who has the problem?” because I’m getting really tired & frustrated with people around me who see conflict & controversy as bad, and see me as the problem when I verbalize opinions and positions that are not popular and/or in the majority in circles I find myself in.

During my six decades on this planet I have come across very few people who have a healthy attitude toward conflict. Rather, I have come across many individuals who are either conflict creators or conflict avoiders. Conflict creators thrive on conflict and crave it. They therefore go out of their way to create it. Conflict avoiders, on the other hand, are uncomfortable with conflict and run from it as if running for their life.

As a former approval seeker and people pleaser PAR EXCELLANCE, I fell into the category of conflict avoider. I gradually came to see though, that conflict is not inherently good or bad. It can be either productive or destructive depending on how it’s handled. It also seems to be an inevitable and unavoidable ingredient for change, particularly social and/or political change. It’s too bad it has to be this way, as I’m sure civil rights workers and women suffragists would attest to. However, it is what it is.

Political and social movements which have changed the course of human history have always been orchestrated by individuals with a clear vision, a consuming passion, the courage to swim upstream against the status quo and deal with the conflict and controversy this inevitably causes, and the perseverance to keep going no matter what.

I recently started re-reading Jim Wallis’s book God’s Politics. I read it 8 years ago and decided to pick it up again due to the inundation of presidential campaign news.

The following excerpt jumped out at me earlier today. What follows is a mixture of my paraphrasing and direct quotes.

Following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Martin Luther King Jr told President Johnson that “the next step on the road to freedom was a voting rights act, without which black Americans in the South would never be able to really change their communities. “ Johnson told King that it would be five to ten years before that law could be passed.

“But Martin Luther King Jr was not one to simply complain, withdraw, or give up. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) began organizing in a sleepy little town nobody had ever heard of, Selma Alabama. On one fateful day, SCLC leaders marched right across the Edmond Pettus Bridge, alongside the people of Selma, to face the notorious Sheriff Jim Clark and his virtual army of angry white police. On what would be called Bloody Sunday, a young man named John Lewis was beaten almost to death, and many others were injured or jailed.”

“Two weeks later, in response to that brutal event, hundreds of clergy from all across the nation and from every denomination came to Selma and joined in the Selma to Montgomery march…after the historic Selma to Montgomery march for freedom, it took only five months, not five years or ten, to pass a new voting rights act: the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”

Who was wrong in this event? Were the people trying to right a perceived wrong the problem or were the people who used violence to maintain the status quo the problem?

I am becoming increasingly disturbed by posts I am seeing on social media in which conservatives bash liberals and liberals bash conservatives. I believe it is possible to speak out passionately about issues we care about without bashing those who hold opposing opinions.

As for myself, there are some liberal positions I agree with and there are some conservative positions I agree with. Therefore, I don’t know how to label myself which is a good thing because I don’t like labels. When it comes to deciding who to vote for, I don’t pay much attention to what party the candidate belongs to. I try to learn as much as I can about the candidate’s character and positions on issues and then vote my conscience.

On 2/14/16 I wrote a post titled Whose problem is it? I have been thinking about that post the last few days following a rather heated discussion I had with someone re: how women are perceived and the rigid roles women are expected to assume in marriages, families and churches here in Lancaster County PA.

Here is an excerpt from that post: “At different times in my life I have verbalized the presence of serious dysfunctions in my family of origin, extended family and family by marriage. These dysfunctions have included various addictions, a serious medical problem, and an incestuous relationship. Each time my motive for saying something was hope that the person or persons involved would acknowledge the problem and get help. Each time, however, my statements were followed by much uproar and anger, I was labeled as the problem, and no help was sought. My question is: Who has the problem? Am I the problem for stating the obvious or are those who want to hold on to denial the problem?”

As I’ve been thinking about that post the question that keeps rolling around in my mind is “Who has the problem?” I will agree to disagree regarding many, many issues. There are, however, some issues that I refuse to agree to disagree about. Those issues all have the equality of people as their common denominator.

Racial equality:
Though slaves were legally set free at the end of the Civil War with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1865, they were not able to actually exercise their political freedom and civil rights for another century. Jim Crow laws kept segregation in place by banning black people from schools, public restrooms, lunch counters, theaters, trains, just about anywhere. Civil rights workers challenged this in the 1950’s & 1960’s stating that segregation was not only illegal, it was morally and ethically wrong.

They challenged this through civil disobedience (direct action with nonviolent resistance). Some strategies they used were boycotts, sit-ins, and marches. Many acts of civil disobedience resulted in violent episodes due to law enforcement officers (many of whom were members of the Ku Klux Klan) routinely using night sticks, attack dogs, city fire hoses, billy clubs, & tear gas to force nonviolent, unarmed protesters into submission. This resulted in the deaths of MANY MANY southern black men, women and children. In addition, northerners who traveled to the south to help blacks register to vote were murdered by the segregationists. White supremacists also bombed black schools, churches, businesses and residences.

Who was wrong in these scenarios? Who was the problem? The people who said there is something very wrong going on in this culture and tried to right it, or the people who used very violent methods to avoid changing segregationist practices in their culture?

In spite of all the violent opposition, civil rights workers were successful in integrating public facilities and getting blacks the right to vote. The Civil Rights Act, which banned discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin in employment practices and in public facilities was passed in 1964. The Voting Rights Act, which gave blacks the right to vote, was passed in 1965.

Though segregation was outlawed on paper, this did not automatically mean that it disappeared. One group of people who put the law to the test were freedom riders. Freedom riders were interracial groups of people who boarded buses in the North heading for the South. The whites would sit in the back of the bus and the blacks in the front. At rest stops, the whites would go into black-only areas and blacks would go into white only areas. Freedom riders were treated very harshly by Southern law enforcement officers. In Birmingham Alabama the Public Safety commissioner gave KKK members 15 minutes to attack an incoming group of freedom riders before allowing police to protect them. The riders were severely beaten and one man (a white civil rights activist) required 50 stitches in his head. All over the South hundreds of freedom riders were jailed and were then treated very harshly in jail, crammed into tiny, filthy cells and sporadically beaten.

Who was wrong in these situations? Were the people trying to right a perceived wrong the problem or were the people who used violence to maintain the status quo the problem?

Gender equality:
As a result of the 13 American colonies winning the War for Independence from England WHITE MEN were able to exercise political freedom. White women were not. White women had no voice in the formation and subsequent governing of their county.

Women’s suffrage in the US was achieved gradually at state and local levels during the late 19th century and the early 20th century. It culminated in 1920 with the passage of the 19th amendment to the Constitution which gave women (white women) the right to vote.

Suffragists promoted swimming competitions, scaled mountains, piloted airplanes and staged large-scale parades to gain publicity. In New York in 1912 they organized a 12-day, 170-mile “Hike to Albany’. In 1913 the suffragist “Army of the Hudson” marched 225 miles from Newark to Washington in 16 days, with numerous photo and press opportunities along the way that gained a national audience. In 1917 they formed The National Woman’s Party, an organization that fought for women’s right to vote on the same terms as men by lobbying for a constitutional amendment ensuring women’s suffrage.

World War I provided the final push for women’s suffrage in America. After President Woodrow Wilson announced that World War I was a war for democracy, women were up in arms. The National Women’s Party picketed outside the White House and engaged in a series of protests against the Wilson Administration in Washington. Wilson ignored the protests for six months, but on June 20, 1917, as a Russian delegation drove up to the White House, suffragettes unfurled a banner which stated; “We women of America tell you that America is not a democracy. Twenty million women are denied the right to vote”. Another banner on August 14, 1917, referred to “Kaiser Wilson” and compared the plight of the German people with that of American women. As a result of these actions many women were arrested and many were jailed. In October one of the women in jail began a hunger strike. President Wilson then finally changed his position and began to advocate for women’s suffrage. The Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution giving white women the right to vote was finally passed in 1920. Black women were not allowed to vote until 1965 with the passage of the Voting Rights Act. As far as I’m concerned, it is absolutely criminal that black women had to wait 45 years after white women to vote.

In closing, I am absolutely incapable and unwilling to agree to disagree regarding racial and gender equality. I believe it is morally and ethically wrong to deny someone rights and opportunities because of the color of their skin or their gender, two things over which people have no control. AND, don’t get me started on refusing to allow someone to operate in their spiritual gifts and fulfill their God-given purpose because of their gender. That’s for another day.

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